Pope Francis recalled the remarkable scene and astounding words of the Gospel when the woman comes to Jesus’ tomb and discovers he isn’t there. And this comes after the women who came earlier found their way blocked by a huge stone in front of the tomb.
Reflecting in his homily during the April 20, 2019, Easter Vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Holy Father, he recalls that they feared their visit had been in vain. So did the later visitor. Then came the question that changed everything.
“A single phrase astounds the woman and changes history: ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead?’ (Lk 24:5),” the Pope said. Further, he suggested it is a question for us today.
“Why do you think that everything is hopeless, that no one can take away your own tombstones?” Francis asked. “Why do you give in to resignation and failure?
“Easter is the feast of tombstones taken away, rocks rolled aside. God takes away even the hardest stones against which our hopes and expectations crash: death, sin, fear, worldliness. Human history does not end before a tombstone, because today it encounters the ‘living stone’ (cf. 1 Pet 2:4), the risen Jesus.
“We, as Church, are built on him, and, even when we grow disheartened and tempted to judge everything in the light of our failures, he comes to make all things new, to overturn our every disappointment. Each of us is called tonight to rediscover in the Risen Christ the one who rolls back from our heart the heaviest of stones. So let us first ask: What is the stone that I need to remove, what is its name?”
The Holy Father went on to suggest the name that our stones might bear: discouragement. He warned against building – stone by stone – a “monument to our own dissatisfaction,” which could lead to complaints and sickness of spirit.
The Pope said another stone can bear the name of “sin.” This arises from the “glitter of wealth, career, pride and pleasure.” And he reminded listeners that when confronted by the angel at the tomb, the women were first filled with fear and were afraid to look up.
“How often do we do the same thing?” Francis asked. “We prefer to remain huddled within our shortcomings, cowering in our fears…we feel in control, for it is easier to remain alone in the darkness of our heart than to open ourselves to the Lord. Yet only he can raise us up.”
Pope Francis concluded by reminding those listening that Christians don’t “linger in graveyards” but focus on the living. He suggested each person must consider their destination.
” Dear brothers and sisters: let us put the Living One at the center of our lives,” Francis urged. “Let us ask for the grace not to be carried by the current, the sea of our problems; the grace not to run aground on the shoals of sin or crash on the reefs of discouragement and fear. Let us seek him in all things and above all things. With him, we will rise again.”